Premier David Alward is urging communities to “hunker down” for the winter storm forecast to hit the province, saying it will once again test the resilience of New Brunswickers.

This comes as power crews race to restore electricity to thousands of customers following another winter storm that battered the southern part of the province a week ago.

Some of the worst weather on the way is set to sweep across those same areas overnight and into Monday morning. Crews restored power to thousands on Sunday, and as of Sunday evening fewer than 4,000 customers were still without electricity.

"This new system that is going to be coming with potentially snow and rain, followed by a significant freeze over the next two or three days, is going to test our resiliency as a province, as a people again," Alward told reporters at an afternoon briefing.

"I would call and encourage on communities and people in the southern part of the province to hunker down again for what is coming."- Premier David Alward

"I would call and encourage on communities and people in the southern part of the province to hunker down again for what is coming."

The storm is expected to bring up to 25 centimetres of snow to parts of southern New Brunswick, followed by freezing rain and rain.

NB Power is trying to restore power to everyone by New Year’s Eve.

Alward said he’s not prepared to call in the Canadian Army for help. He said the right people are on the ground and he has confidence in the power crews doing the specialized work.

Alward said the emergency response system is working as it is supposed to, but there will be an evaluation once everything is finished.

Steve Jones lost power seven days ago and on Sunday was cooking over a wood stove in the living room of his rural home near Hampton.

Power to the neighbourhood was restored Sunday, but Jones said he’s concerned that no one from the province checked on people during the last week.

"I hear on the news that they're prioritizing," he said. "Who decides whether I freeze to death or the people in the city freeze to death — or the other side of the country?"

NB Power said during the last week 82,000 customers — nearly a quarter of its total — have been without electricity at some point.

In some cases customers have lost power six times.

"We can certainly understand the frustration," spokesman Brent Staeben said.

"We can also certainly understand a little bit of the confusion for people in terms of how they could gain their power back and lose it again, and lose it multiple times."

Storm

New Brunswick Premier David Alward, centre, flanked by NB Power spokesman Brent Staeben, left, and New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization director Greg MacCallum address a news conference Sunday to gives an update on the storm recovery operations. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

He said there are a lot of "singular outages," where one house in an area is without power.

Firefighters are going door to door with portable heaters to keep water pipes warm, according to Greg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

MacCallum urged people to call their local fire department if they need anything. Warming centres will continue to be open, he said.

He said changes to emergency measures before this storm have improved local operations, but the response was complicated when cell communications were cut.

"That is something where we need to work on more redundancy and we need to find workarounds, which we are finding," MacCallum said.

He urged people to be careful with portable heaters and candles, and warned not to warm up pipes with blowtorches.

He said people should check and make sure neighbours are all right.